One of my favorite students wears baggy jeans and chunky chain necklaces. He spends all of his time drawing graffiti in his notebooks--not the type of kid who you would expect to be engaged in English class.
Yet, he is always listening. His eyes are on his graffiti, but his mind is on the discussion. I am amazed how his hand shoots in the air when I ask a probing question about the literature. He is my #1 participator, and his leadership prompts everyone else in the class to participate too.
When our class put on the play version of One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest, he volunteered to read McMurphy, and he knocked us all dead with his enthusiasm. He is McMurphy. Swaggering, rebellious, troubled...but kind-hearted, smart, and funny.
I love this student.
When he came into class today, I wanted to cry. One side of his face was practically deformed--puffy eye, bruises, stitches. It was difficult to look at, especially considering how much I adore this kid.
"What happened?" I asked, reaching out to pat his arm. I wanted to hug him.
"I got bit by a dog," he responded, a little nervously, not meeting my eyes.
It is very obvious to me that he did not get bit by a dog.
I couldn't look at him while I was teaching because it made me want to burst into tears. He is going to be scarred for life.
Did he get drunk or high and do something stupid? Did he get jumped? Is he in a gang?
I don't know what happened, but what I do know is that when I look at this student, I see who I hope he becomes: I see him in ten years--an art or architecture student, wearing a collared shirt, jeans, and skater shoes. I see him with a wife that he loves and defends and takes care of.
My students sit in their desks, and I wonder what their lives are like and what their lives will be like. I wish they knew what I can see.